Review by Galactus21
"Insert a random epic Joker quote here."
Batman has all the gadgets and combat mastery to provide a dynamic game play experience. So why in the history of gaming have we seen nothing but shovelware? Rocksteady Studios was kind enough to end this drought for the Dark Knight. Albeit some clunky controls here and there, Batman: Arkham Asylum is without a doubt the best Batman game to date. Not only does the Dark Knight come in his mystique and mastery, so does his arch nemesis Joker. Joker in this game adds so much value to the game. His diabolical, menacing, and pure evil genius bring much to the table.
The Joker has been captured. He's been taken to Arkham Asylum so he can be locked away and Gotham can enjoy some peace of mind. As Joker is carted away into the depths of Arkham, all is well, or is it? This is all part of Joker's diabolical plan. This is evident by Joker's immediate escape. His escape throws the entire institution into chaos. The Dark Knight enters the fray to restore order. Throughout his adventure to recapture Joker, there are plenty of adventure and story points that provide attraction to the player.
You're just a freak Like me!
The in game combat system is fairly simplistic, but does its job of portraying the combat mastery of the Dark Knight. Players can string together long combos by smashing a single button repeatedly. A counter button is also mapped conveniently to allow Batman to quickly stop a foe's attack in its place. Additionally, you can use projectiles such as the bat claws as part of combat as well.
The combat system for the most part flows pretty well. The controls are a bit clunky at times (will address this some further in the review), but it doesn't dampen the experience too much. Typically, you will be swarmed by a group of Jokers' goons. Usually by mashing one button, it'll allow you to dispose of them in devastating fashion. The combat system, however, is only one component. Another huge piece of Batman's core game play is its stealth mechanics.
There will be times when Batman will face foes carrying semi-automatic weapons. In these situations, a head on collision would mean almost instant death. In these cases, the stealth component of the game comes into play. For the most part, the stealth within this game was nicely implemented. I can grapple to surrounding environments and slowly creep up to bad guys and perform a silent take down. Other situations such as a room full of bad guys can lead to multiple possibilities as well. Batman can grapple up to gargoyles and use this as a method to take down enemies. This can be done in several ways such as an inverted take down (leading to strung up bad guy) to gliding down and creeping up on an enemy. Joker will usually warn remaining goons through the PR system of down enemies. This will lead to enemies traveling in packs or being more cautious.
Why so serious?
During Batman's adventure, he can also activate Bat vision which allows him to see enemies behind d walls, nearby weak structures, and possible entrances that you may miss in normal vision. Batman can also call on detective mode when necessary to investigate. This allows Batman to track certain people for example. Batman also has an assortment of gadgets at his disposal. Rocksteady did a great job at utilizing these gadgets to fit with the surrounding environment (how it is used).
One downfall to the game is the hit and miss controls. The controls can be quite clunky at times. This is evident when fighting enemies. At times it is difficult to attack the enemy you want, which in turn leads to you getting hit. There are times when I tried to glide down but overshot my enemy due to the clunky controls. This in turn led to me being caught and killed shortly after. The controls are a bit clunky, but nothing that is too detrimental to the game. Another shortcoming, however, is the lack of boss fights. The poison Ivy and Bane fights were quite enjoyable, but the quantity of boss fights were lacking.
Graphically, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a good looking game. The character models look good. The cut scenes also look quite well. When in bat vision, the game's night vision like view looks good as well. The surroundings however do look a bit murky when you get a close up shot at it. The musical soundtrack for the most part also holds up well. The voice acting was very well implemented. It mirrored the high production value of a high budget film.
Let's put a smile on that face!
All in all, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a good game. Some of the shortcomings prevent it from being a truly great game. With that said the fairly lengthy story mode and the challenges offer quite a bit of play time. The combat is frantic despite the clunky controls. The atmosphere was very immersive, as it was everything you would expect of a Batman game. Stealth was also implemented very well. Batman: Arkham Asylum is definitely a game that is worth at least on play through to experience the story and game play. It's easily the best Batman game to date, and I expect the sequel to fix some of the shortcomings so that becomes the truly great title that Batman deserves.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/10
Game Release: Batman: Arkham Asylum (US, 08/25/09)
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